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Mosin-Nagant Model 1891/30: Russia's World War II Sniper Rifle

By Jon Guttman 
Originally published by Military History magazine. Published Online: March 04, 2011 
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Russia made more than 300,000 Model 1891/30 sniper rifles during the war. (Illustration by Gregory Proch)
Russia made more than 300,000 Model 1891/30 sniper rifles during the war. (Illustration by Gregory Proch)

The Mosin-Nagant Model 1891 bolt-action rifle combined a simple design by Russian Captain Sergei Mosin with a five-round internal box magazine designed by Belgians Émile and Léon Nagant. Entering Russian service in 1892, it remained the standard long arm of the Russian infantry through the Russo-Japanese War, World War I and, in its improved 1930 Soviet version, World War II.

In 1932 the Red Army pulled Mosin-Nagants from assembly lines to modify them as sniper rifles. Gunsmiths reconfigured the bolt handle to make room for 3.5–4x telescopic sights; raised the foresight a millimeter, allowing a sniper to use open sights on targets out to 600 meters; and lightened the trigger pull to a range of 4.4 to 5.3 pounds. Snipers still complained about the weapon's excessive length and weight, as well as its poor quality wooden stocks, which often warped during weather changes.

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Despite its shortcomings, the Model 1891/30 was rugged, reliable and accurate, its average minute of arc ranging from a 1.5 to below 1 (less than an inch over 100 meters). It proved murderously successful. In fact, German snipers reportedly preferred captured Mosin-Nagants to their own Mauser Karabiner 98k rifles. Although the Soviets also adapted the semiautomatic Tokarev SVT-40 for sniper use, it proved less accurate than the proven Mosin-Nagant, which ultimately eclipsed it. Russia produced some 330,000 Model 1891/30 snipers between 1941 and 1943. These remained in Soviet use until replaced by the Dragunov SVD in 1963.


12 Responses to “Mosin-Nagant Model 1891/30: Russia's World War II Sniper Rifle”


  1. 1
    Bernie Long says:

    I'm looking for an authentic 91/30 sniper. I saw what was reported to be mfg'd in 1939at Tula (round receiver) with laminated stocks and a PU scope. Could that be for genuine?

    • 1.1
      Travis says:

      Depends on the price. If it was almost 1000$, it may be genuine. If it's more like 500$ then it's likely not an original, but instead one paired up with a PU scope for the import market

  2. 2
    Mike H. says:

    The Mosin-Nagant M91/30 sniper variant is undoubtedly still in use in some remote corner of the world. The standard-issue 91/30 had a straight bolt handle, which is currently being sold for under $100. For those who have never fired one, I can tell you all that these things are RUSSIAN. Designed for the Russian battlefield, they are, indeed, an ugly piece…but, it is accurate, fires a proven round still used by the Russian Army even today (that's a 115 year-old round!), and is rugged beyond belief…and, yes, it does kick. But, boyoboy, is it fun to shoot!

  3. 3
    Larry C says:

    Until the advent of the military version of the Remington model 700 (M24), Mosin Nagant and the Springfield 03A3 Match were the world's best sniper rifles. All three have now been superceded by specifically "for sniping" rifles and cartridges.

    Neverthelss, the M24 is still a very outstanding rifle. I have one, in.338 Lapua caliber, with which I can with very high frequency, hit an 8 inch pie plate at 1500 yards.

  4. 4
    Tim K says:

    What is the difference between the hex receiver and the round receiver on the 1891-30 Mosin-Nagant?

  5. 5
    Paul F says:

    Just picked up a 1943 sniper rifle for $800.00 with matching numbers.

  6. 6
    Howard Taylor says:

    Mosin-Nagant Model 1891/30, What wood specie was the stock made of ?

    • 6.1
      Larry C says:

      basically any hardwood specie (except oak) on which they laid hands – usually a specie od maple.

  7. 7
    christa lytle says:

    I have a 1932 Russian 7.65 cal 54R its a beautiful gun. Wondering how much its worth and how to find out if it was used in battle!

    • 7.1
      CD Long says:

      If it was made in 1932,you can be certain it was used in the War. Stalin rearsenalled all of them after the war. That is why it looks so pretty. $200.00 worth

  8. 8
    J.ADKINS says:

    I just bought a Toula Hex. Mosin, 32 model how can i find out if it was used in battle???

  9. 9
    timmy says:

    I came across a 1940 m90/30. How can I run the numbers and tell its original. Gun is in outstanding shap.



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